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While we thought the problems that existed between Galileo and the Pope were long gone, we are still faced with the same division between science and religion.
Yes, the Technologist Blog is supposed to talk about technological advancements as they relate to the law, or make the legal profession more efficient, but now Kansas has flipped the switch and sent us back to Bizarro World with its new lawsuit.
The Next Generation Science Standards ("NGSS") are a set of education science standards set to enhance the quality of science education among American students, according to Ars Technica. To date, seven states have adopted the standards, including Kansas and Kentucky, amidst public religious outcry about the standards including content on climate change and evolution.
Last week, students, parents and taxpayers filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, claiming (quite creatively) that adopting the NGSS will effectually cause "Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview ... in violation of the Establishment, Free Exercise, and Speech Clauses of the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment."
The complaint goes on to state that by imposing standards, the state is, from the beginning of kindergarten, taking children "into the religious sphere by leading them to ask ultimate religious questions like what is the cause of nature of life and the universe." The main thrust of their argument is that teaching evolution is essentially a religious question, and the state is imposing a "religion" of sorts of methodological naturalism. In effect, the plaintiffs would like to teach their kids about "miracles" as "science" to give them an objective education.
In Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, a group of parents successfully challenged the teaching of intelligent design in school. The court held that intelligent design is inherently religious, and enjoined the school district from teaching intelligent design "[t]o preserve the separation of church and state mandated by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution."
Dover was the first and only case to discuss the concept of intelligent design, and though in a different district, may have an influence in the Kansas case. Courts are unlikely to view established science as a "religious worldwiew" as the plaintiffs categorize it. Regardless, we'll have to wait and see how this litigation progresses. It will likely not be the first of its kind regarding the NGSS.
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